Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Alright, no comment to really go with this, just that this is a website you should really check out. It's Michael King's photo essay on Bush and Blair's reaction to finding out about the turnover of power in Iraq.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Steve's been busy weblogging as of late. He's feeling a bit under the weather, so instead of using the time at home to fluff this site up with fluff, he's fluffed up his own, new econ site with interesting stuff (as opposed to fluff like this stuff). In unfashionable blog fashion, I am NOT going to provide you a link to that site, but rather point you to the little bar of other blog sites to the right. Use one of those to find his site (hint: it's the one mentioning "the science of choice") so that you might read about how abortion has changed the course of history and how newspapers really don't have a clue.

Beyond websurfing, apparently not much is happening in our lives. I've searched and applied for teaching jobs, but have not heard anything back from anywhere. I fear I will end up substitute teaching again next year. It's a bitter-sweet prospect. Bitter because I won't REALLY be teaching, and likely Steve and I won't be able to come home for Christmas; sweet because I won't have loads of homework to do each night, and can spend my time with a second job, or better yet, learning to bake yummy food... mmm... or perhaps soaking up some Carolina rays with Liz, or lounging by the pool... (hm, being poor doesn't sound so bad when you look at it like that).

So, stop by Steve's site, pray that Laura finds a job so that she doesn't drive Steve nuts with all her spare time, and have a great day!
-Bliss (for the next... 26 days. Not that anyone is counting...)

Friday, June 25, 2004

Dragging The Friends Along

Laura and I are both quite excited about going to NC, of course, but leaving friends and family behind is, of course, not all that agreeable. For this reason we were very happy to find that Laura's good friend, Liz, was also moving to Chapel Hill (the kind of coincidence which is more astounding the more you think about it). With this great success, Laura and I have gone about trying to convince others to move down there as well. Laura's old roommate Julia is looking promising, as she has considered a job in the area, and my sister, Dorothy, was tempted but, alas, said no.

Today however, I opened a new front when found out my good friend Luke was considering applying to Duke for next year, to study philosophy. This would be great as they are only 10 minutes or so from Chapel Hill, and I tried to convince him that he should try for both Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill just to be safe. So the Evangelism continues. Wish us luck.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

New Blog

Steve decided he wanted a new blog for his econ politics stuff, so that the online journaling was not interrupted by his wacko political ideas. So for those interested check out The Science of Choice, where you can find Steve's rantings in a cool new template with a cool title.

Three Cheers for Export-Led Growth

In Thomas Friedman's column I found an anecdotal example of economic sucess in China which should make some folks sqirm...
He writes:
China's most modern cities — and there are still plenty of miserable, backward ones — are rapidly grabbing business as knowledge centers, not just manufacturing hubs. No, Toto, they are not just making tennis shoes here. Try G.E., Microsoft, Dell, SAP, H.P., Sony and Accenture, which are setting up back-room operations here for Asian companies and software R.& D. centers.

And then Later:
Just as in manufacturing, he [the mayor] added, "Chinese people first were the employees and working for the big foreign manufacturers. And after several years, after we have learned all the processes and steps, we can start our own firms. Software will go down the same road. . . . First we will have our young people employed by the foreigners, and then we will start our own. It is like building a building. Today, the U.S., you are the designers, the architects, and the developing countries are the bricklayers for the buildings. But one day, I hope, we will be the architects."
This is bad news for anti-globalization activists because it says that (Uh-Oh!) Capitalism works sometimes, and that the US is not actually exploiting poorer countries, but allowing them to become wealthy. The other half of the Anti-globalization crowd (Labor-union types) will cry out in pain that our good jobs are being stolen by the Chinese. Really the only people who can cheer at this are right-wing-capitalist zealots like myself who are at least tentatively convinced that a well functioning competative international economy is in the best interests of everyone (I used to think this was a moderate position pre-Kerry/Gephart/Kucinich/Dean/Edwards...).

Minimum Wage Debate

Kerry's proposal to increase the minimum wage is a great excuse for a classic economic policy debate. Arnold Kling has some facinating discussion going on his way cool econ blog. Most recently he quotes Glen Whitman's argument that true proponents assume a monosony model of employment, meaning that there is only one buyer (or employer) of labor, and they keep prices artificially low. This would justify government price setting, or in english, a higher minimum wage. Kling responds to this as follows:

It's hard to think of any real-world labor market monopsonists. Perhaps there is monopolistic competition--many firms, each with some price-setting and wage-setting power. However, in a monopolistically competitive market, price ceilings (and presumably wage floors) do not increase output and employment. Instead, they drive firms out of business.

The only other effective argument that I have heard in favor of the minimum wage is the theory that inefficiencies in the market cause employers to use the minimum wage as an inaccurate siginal for the value of unskilled labor, setting the wages artifically low, thus a small minimum wage increase would bring the market into equillibrium, and not hurt employment. I have not read any of the empirical studies on this point though, so all bets are off as to whether or not it works.

Iowa Electronic Markets Show Bush Ahead.

The Iowa Electronic Markets are becoming relatively popular as an alternative to the traditional opinion polls, especially among those who just can't get enough political news. This popularity can be partially attributed to the speeches I peformed about the markets a couple of years ago (sure Steve, you can think that) and partially to the fact that they tend to out predict the opinion polls. Ok, lets be honest, only the vote share market does that, and even then the market is able to be accurate only very close to the election.

Still, in the vote share market Bush is 6 points up on Kerry, and in the winner take all market, he is 4 points up on Kerry. These quotes do change regularily, so don't bother commenting that they are off if you read this in say...10 minutes.

Anyway, these are slightly more optimistic for Bush than the most recent polls in which Bush seemed to lead Kerry or be tied early in the month, though the most recent ABC poll puts Kerry up by a decent margin, especially if Nader is not in the race.

But then really, this is all a bit premature I know. I just like to see how the numbers corrospond to various news events

Sunday, June 20, 2004

A shameless advertisment to the two other people that read this blog.
I went to Dreamcoat Cafe yesterday for coffee and ended up hearing this GREAT band. Funny thing, I knew two of the band members (Marc Auni -- how do you spell his name?!? and Steve Mitchel - again, can't spell last names.) They were great! (Steve's not officially in the band, but he was filling in last night.) SO, as I know they'll become famous, I thought y'all should check out their website, and maybe listen to their MP3 demos or something. Remember (to quote the pop song, "Rock and Roll Lifestyle") this proves I was there, that I heard of them first.

Visit them at EntertainingStrangers.com

Friday, June 18, 2004

And, now for something completely NON political:
While websurfing today, I found out that UNC offers a second (or "add-on") TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) license!
This means that without declaring myself a TESL masters student, I can obtain the qualifications necessary to teach ESL in the public schools. YEA!
Many of you may know that I was in a similar program at Hamline this fall, but dropped out when Steve proposed because I knew I wouldn't be able to finish the program.
This program, it looks like, is shorter than the Hamline version, and if the two classes I took at Hamline transfer, I only have to take 4 more classes. Easily done.
I'm very excited. If I don't get a teaching job (it's becoming quite late to be applying) and have to settle for a "regular" (9 to 5) job, this program may keep me from becoming too stir-crazy. In addition, it'll become VERY easy to find a job the next year, as TESL is in high-demand.
I'm very excited. I've even started thinking like a linguist. Here's an example. When someone says, "Good luck," what do you say in return: "Thanks, I could use it." or "Thanks, I can use it." and, why? Does one sound "off" to you, or do they both sound acceptable? Which one? -- I'm curious about this, I have my theories, and I want to see what you think. So, if you happened to browse your way to this blog for any reason, please drop me a comment and let me know. Plus, I want to know who has found this blog or checks it at all. So, PLEASE, HELP ME FEEL LOVED, LEAVE YOUR THOUGHTS!!!

Saddam, 9-11, and the 9-11 Commission
Going even further along the lines of yesterday's post, the Wall Street Journal (much better than NYT) online opinion page has an article debunking the press coverage of the 9-11 report. Needless to say, you can't get the whole picture from any one media source durring an election year. Maybe ever.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Tools for a Nerd
I GOT TOOLS! The toolset my Uncle Rip and Aunt Jane gave me for our wedding (opened early, sorry) is awesome and has all of the few tools that I know how to use...

The Sorry State of the New York Times
Due to a demand that I fufill my promise to use this space for "random political speculations" I have decided to bring both of our readers' :) attention to the sorry plight of the New York Times. This post is not for those with little interest in politics, since I can get long winded...

Those who know me might ask why I read the New York Times so religiously only to be consistently disappointed in its ability to produce quality reporting or commentary. I think the aswer lies partly in that it is free, and partly in that it is enough of a leader in the media that ignoring what they say would be like ignoring all research coming out of Harvard just because we all know that they are a bunch of liberals.

To begin I must admit that one of the three shining lights of the NYtimes (Brooks, Safire, and Friedman) was in good form today, and while I am not as ardent a follower of Thomas Freidman as some Bethel Poly Sci grads, and I only agree with him half of the time, he always is astute and makes a good case for his views, and today is no different.

Nevertheless, today the paper is in particularily bad form, it has reached a low that can only be caused by one person: Maureen Dowd. She often surprises me with her ability to take a real world topic, sometimes even a substantive topic, and create 700 words of pure drivel. Today she did not even start out with a substantive topic, but that does not really limit her in any way. There is nothing newsworthy, nothing astute, nothing valuable in her columns that I have yet read.

I can forgive the times for publishing her, however, since it is possible that they actually sell more newspapers if they allow her to spill ink onto their pages, so that sensible people like me can not help but read her columns a few times a month just to make sure she is still in top form.

Today however, they outdid themselves by picking up on one of her anecdotes in their lead editorial, saying the following:
It's hard to imagine how the commission investigating the 2001 terrorist attacks could have put it more clearly yesterday: there was never any evidence of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, between Saddam Hussein and Sept. 11.
Now President Bush should apologize to the American people, who were led to believe something different.

Since this has been an argument from the left from the beginnning, there should be no surprise that one of their lead stories and their editorial are proclaiming the news as loud as possible, for that is their ideological duty.

I only point out this focus in order to go off into my speculations: First, they are ignoring the fact that the Bush administration and the folks at number 10 Downing Street gave many reasons for going to war, and at the time the claim was not just that Saddam was linked to Al Qaeda, but that his regieme was supporting terrorism. And this is not in question. Saddam was giving pensions to palestinian suicide bombers' families (while his own people were at times starving), and supporting terrorist training camps (not Al Qaeda) within his country for years. As such, the claims made about his regieme being in support of terrorists in not a matter of debate.

To stretch this entry out to a real painful length, longer than Tim ever let me go in my Clarion columns, I wonder at the strategy of the left in this election. It seems that Kerry and his support staff (also known as the NYT editorial board) are trying to win this election by rehashing the debate over going to war in Iraq. This confuses me greatly, since support for the war has been so high, they seem to be valiently fighting an uphill battle on this one. This greatly appeals to their anti-Bush, anti-war base, and maybe it will work, but somehow I doubt it. I am still waiting to hear what Kerry is going to do for America that is offensive, not defensive. Stated differently, I have yet to hear much of anything out of him other than: Bush did this, Bush is bad, I will undo what he did. Or even more common: Bush did this, Bush is bad, I won't change a thing, but vote for me because I disagree. Good luck to you Mr Kerry, but for my vote you need to stand for something more.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Alright, so Steve's only sort of right. I did work, a fair bit (16 hours) on Thursday, but haven't really been working since. On Friday and Saturday (today, I guess) I've been playing my viola like a mad woman at a farewell concert for my high school orchestra director. He was probably the finest director I'll ever play under, he had a knack for getting us to really express ourselves through the music. He helped bring out the best in us all. So, it was fun. I saw a bunch of old friends from high school. Two guys I knew went on to Julliard school of music, and came back to the farewell concert and soloed. They were AMAZING. One (Erik) played this simple piece on the violin, and knocked the socks off of it. It was the most beautiful thing I've heard! The other (Greg) played a piece on the piano that sounded like a snowstorm. It was great.
Which brings me to my rant. I miss two aspects of high school. One, I could study multiple disciplines at the same time. There's something to be said for that. Math followed by Orchestra and then Journalism and Drama. It's like a well-balanced meal. Also, having gone to a public school, you hung out with people of all different walks of life, and it didn't matter. I was friends with future successful scientists and musicians, as well as with people who were entirely unsure where life would bring them, and still are. It was beautiful. You learned to appreciate all each individual had to offer. Granted, there are a lot of things I didn't like about high school, but we'll save that for a different rant.
Well, goodnight all.

Having arrived home, Laura and I, immediately are hitting the grind. Grind, grind, grind...yeah, it is just as much fun as it sounds. In my case the grinding involves scooping ice cream, in Laura's case it involves ACR work. In the meantime, I found this REALLY big painting of these ships and a dock at a garage sale for $10. So I bought it (after consulting Laura of course) and have started cleaning it, and started wondering how the heck we are going to move it down to NC. Oh well.

Laura has a shower tomorrow, which is cool for me because she gets tons of presents and I don't even have to show up. So three cheers for bridal showers!

Monday, June 07, 2004

We are now on our way home. We found a beautiful one-bedroom apartment, with great ammenities, including a fireplace, which is fun for me.
The job search went as great as can be hoped for. Unfortunately, the position asked too much and paid too little, so I will not be taking it. SO, the search continues...
That's it for today! I'll be home on Wend!

Thursday, June 03, 2004

We're in KY! Steve decided to come along on this adventure, for which his mother and I are VERY happy (more free labor!) Today we arrive at our new home, tomorrow I have a job interview and we begin our search for apartments, as well as unload all our earthly posessions into a large storage center. (Sigh) a long couple of days are ahead of us.

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